Category Archives: Fascism in America

Kathleen Sebellius Blames Insurance Companies For The Effects of Obama’s Stimulus Program

Like her ideological forebears from the last century, U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius is angry that businessmen who are eager to avoid a loss are raising prices.

From the LA Times, Anthem Blue Cross asked to justify controversial rate hikes :

The Obama administration called on Anthem Blue Cross on Monday to justify its controversial new rate hikes of as much as 39% for individual policyholders, saying the increases were alarming at a time when subscribers are facing skyrocketing healthcare costs.

In a letter to the company’s president, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius voiced serious concern over the rates, which go into effect March 1 for many of the insurer’s estimated 800,000 individual policyholders.

The increases have triggered widespread criticism from Anthem members and brokers, who say the premium hikes will put health coverage out of reach for some and very costly for others.

“With so many families already affected by rising costs, I was very disturbed to learn through media accounts that Anthem Blue Cross plans to raise premiums for its California customers by as much as 39%,” Sebelius wrote to company President Leslie Margolin.

“These extraordinary increases are up to 15 times faster than inflation and threaten to make healthcare unaffordable for hundreds of thousands of Californians, many of whom are already struggling to make ends meet in a difficult economy.”

Let’s get one thing straight;  these increases are entirely due to inflation, and they are likely largely caused by the Obama administration’s stimulus plan. Anthem executives didn’t wake up one morning and say “Hey! Let’s jack up prices so that our customers can no longer afford our product!”  Rather they are increasing prices to deal with the increased costs they anticipate for the coverage they provide.  Now why would they do that?

It turns out that while California has been receiving large amounts of bailout and stimulus funds, the supply of medical service providers has stayed steady.  That new money has largely gone to the California State government’s payroll and to cover their administrative overhead costs.  One of the largest discretionary expense most government employees have is the cost of medical insurance, and the demand for the insurance is relatively inelastic.  This insurance is used to pay for a multitude of doctor’s visits etc.  Thus you have a large pool of people with freshly printed money in their pockets engaged in a bidding war trying to consume an essentially static supply.The winners pay higher prices for the scarce goods, and the losers are left out in the cold.

This phenomenon is precisely how prices increase when whoever controls the money supply engages in inflation.  It’s not mysterious.  It’s not greed.  It is merely a predictable outcome counterfeiting.

This is one favorite method used by totalitarians to justify their seizures of power.  They engage in reckless government spending financed using the printing press.  Then, when these newly printed funds lead to a bidding war between buyers that drives prices up, they use the price increases as a justification for even greater usurpations of power.

If Kathleen Sebelius is serious about reducing prices for health care in California, she should be penning angry letters to the head of the California Medical Licensing Board.  This bullying of a company trying to stay solvent despite an economic storm created by government intervention – while making for very nice populist theater – will contributed nothing positive to the problem.

I am an anarcho-capitalist living just west of Boston Massachussetts. I am married, have two children, and am trying to start my own computer consulting company.

“Are these Republicans Walter”? “No Donny, these men are just nihilists”

“I mean, say what you like about the tenets of the Republican party, Dude, at least it’s an ethos…”

Apologies to Joel and Ethan Coen…

There has been a recent meme circulated by the leftosphere, that the Republicans… in fact any opponent of the Obama agenda… are nihilists.

Now, I have to say, I don’t think most of the people promoting this idea even know what a nihilist is (and if they did, many of them would realize THEY are the ones that come close to fitting that bill), never mind that current republican ideology is nihilist. Current republican ideology is empty, obstructionist, and reactionary; but that’s not actually nihilism… or even close to it.

A few days ago, a person whose intellect I generally respect, John Scalzi, randomly tossed off a comment calling Republicans (and Obama oppositionists) Nihilists.

Well.. at least John knows what a nihilist is… which is why I was disappointed in his statement… because as far as I’m concerned that analysis is just lazy.

Then a few days later, as part of his commentary on the state of the union speech, he wrote this:

“As for the Republicans, a recent reader was distressed when I said they were “hopped-up ignorant nihilists,” but you know what, when your Senate operating strategy is “filibuster everything and let Fox News do the rest,” and the party as a whole gives it a thumbs up, guess what, you’re goddamned nihilists. There’s no actual political strategy in GOP anymore other than taking joy in defeating the Democrats. I don’t have a problem with them enjoying such a thing, but it’s not a real political philosophy, or at least shouldn’t be.”

Ok… not much of the core of the analysis there I can disagree with… but again, it isn’t nihilism.

Today however he posted a link to further explain the position he was trying to express in shorthand by calling the Republicans nihilist.

Again, there’s nothing I can really disagree with in this analysis:

[N]othing could be worse for the GOP than the illusion of success under present circumstances. Worse than learning nothing from the last two elections, the GOP has learned the wrong things… Not recognizing their past errors, the GOP will make them again and again in the future, and they will attempt to cover these mistakes with temporary, tactical solutions that simply put off the consequences of their terrible decisions until someone else is in office. They will then exploit the situation as much as they possibly can, pinning the blame for their errors on their hapless inheritors and hoping that the latter are so pitiful that they retreat into yet another defensive crouch.

Is the GOP in a worse position than a year ago? On the surface, no, it isn’t. Once we get past the surface, however, the same stagnant, intellectually bankrupt, unimaginative party that brought our country to its current predicament is still there and has not changed in any meaningful way in the last three years.

The best thing though, is the source of that quote: The American Conservative

Thus showing, once again, for those who don’t already know; that Republican does not necessarily mean conservative or libertarian, nor does conservative necessarily mean Republican.

Oh and continuing in that vein, conservative doesn’t necessarily mean religious either; nor does religious always mean conservative (especially if you’re Catholic).

I am neither a Republican, nor a conservative; but I DO register as a Republican because my state has closed primaries, and I like to vote against John McCain and Joe Arpaio.

I am a minarchist, which is a school of libertarianism that pretty much says “hey, leave me alone as much as is practical, and I’ll do the same for you, thanks”.

I’m well educated (perhaps overeducated), high earning, catholic, married with two kids, and a veteran. I was raised in the northeast but choose to live in the Rocky Mountain west, because I prefer the greater degree of freedom and lower levels of government (and other busybodies) interference.

I don’t care who you have sex with or what you shove up your nose, down your throat, or into your lungs so long as I don’t have to pay for it, or the eventual medical bills you rack up.

I KNOW from direct personal experience we need a strong national defense, but that freedom and liberty (which are two different things) are rather a LOT more important than internal security.

I have no faith in the government not to do with… really anything other than defense… exactly what they did with Social Security, or AFDC, or any number of other programs that they have horribly screwed up, wasting trillions of dollars in the process.

Yes, there is great benefit to some of those programs at some times (and I was on welfare and foodstamps as a child, I know directly this is true); but the government couldn’t make a profit running a whorehouse, how can they be expected to run healthcare, or education, or anything else for that matter.

Oh and for those of you who believe that government really can do good, without a corresponding and greater bad… I’m sorry, you’re wrong.

It’s a sweet ideal, but it just isn’t true. Good intentions don’t mean good results, unless combined with competence, efficiency, passion, compassion… HUMANITY in general; and the government is not a humanitarian organization.

Governments are good at exactly two thing: Stealing and Killing. Yes, they are capable of doing other things, but everything they do proceeds from theft, coercion, force… stealing and killing.

That doesn’t mean that good can’t come out of it; but everything the government does has an associated harm that goes with it. Sometimes that’s worth it, sometimes it isn’t and it’s DAMN hard to figure that out. Who gets to decide? You? Your friends?

Do you have the right to tell me what to do, how to live my life? Do I have the right to tell YOU how to live YOUR life?

So why is it ok if you get a few million of your friends, and I get a few million of my friends, and just because you have more friends than I do you get to tell all of us how to live and what to do?

Sorry but, HELL NO.

I want the same things you want. I want people to be happy, and healthy, and have great opportunities… But the government doesn’t have the right to steal from me to help you do it; anymore than you would have the right to hold a gun to my head and take the money from me personally.

Actually, the government doesn’t have any rights whatsoever. The PEOPLE have rights, the exercise of which we can delegate to the government.

It absolutely amazes me that both liberals and conservatives understand that the government isn’t to be trusted; they just believe it’s not to be trusted over different things:

Liberals trust the government with your money, education, and healthcare; but don’t want them to interfere with your sex life, or chemical recreation.

Conservatives on the other hand are just fine with the government making moral, sexual, ethical, and pharmaceutical choices for you; but don’t trust it with your education, healthcare etc…

Well, I don’t trust them with ANYTHING except defense (which they also screw up mightily, but which is at least appropriate to the coercive and destructive nature of government).

It’s axiomatic that the intelligence of any committee is equal to that of the least intelligent member, divided by the total number of members.

There are 435 members of the house of representatives, 100 senators, 21 members of the cabinet, 9 supreme court justices, a vice president, and a president; for a total committee size of 567.

Now, if we’re charitable and say they’re all geniuses with IQs above 140 (don’t hurt yourself laughing), that’s an overall government IQ of .25

Why on earth would you want THAT spending your money, or making any decisions for you whatsoever?

Now… Given that thumbnail philosophy, who am I supposed to vote for?

I certainly can’t vote Democratic; they want to take all my money and either give it to other people, or use it to force me (and everyone else) to behave as THEY decide.

On the other hand, I can’t much vote for Republicans, because they still want to give my money to other people (just mostly different other people than democrats), and use my money to force me (and everyone else) to behave as they decide…. They just want to take a little less of it.

And I really can’t vote for Libertarians, because they are profoundly unserious and incapable of effecting any real political change. I want to vote for someone who will PREVENT the worst abuses of government, and sadly, voting libertarian has no hope of accomplishing that goal.

I end up voting for whoever, or whatever, I hope or believe will reduce those undesirable characteristics of theft and coercion inherent to government.

Often that means voting Republican, but that shouldn’t be taken as an indication of my support for Republicans.

So tell me, is that nihilism? I don’t think so. I think it’s playing defense, which isn’t a winning strategy; but it’s not nihilism.

Nihilism would be standing by the sidelines say “there’s no point in playing, you’re all going to lose anyway”… which coincidentally is the position of a lot of Libertarians.

I am a cynically romantic optimistic pessimist. I am neither liberal, nor conservative. I am a (somewhat disgruntled) muscular minarchist… something like a constructive anarchist.

Basically what that means, is that I believe, all things being equal, responsible adults should be able to do whatever the hell they want to do, so long as nobody’s getting hurt, who isn’t paying extra

A doctor calls for a kinder gentler war

I regularly read the Science Based Medicine Blog since it is an interesting combination of intelligent, rational examination of medicine and the naive monstrous morals of a toddler.

This week’s column by Dr Steven Novella does not disappoint. The good doctor reviews the medical impact of modern sodium consumption and states:

As usual, the medical and regulatory communities are tasked with making sense out of chaos – with implementing bottom-line recommendations in the face of inconclusive evidence. While there remains legitimate dissent on the role of salt in vascular health, the current consensus is something like this:

  • Most of the world, including Americans and those in industrialized nations, consume more salt than appears to be necessary.
  • In the US most of that salt comes from processed or restaurant food (while in other countries, like Japan, most salt intake is added while cooking).
  • There is a plausible connection between excess salt intake, hypertension, strokes and heart attacks.
  • There is evidence to suggest that reducing overall salt intake will reduce the incidence of these health problems, but the evidence is not yet conclusive and longer term and sub-population data is needed.

Given all this it seems reasonable (from a scientific point of view – and ignoring the role of political ideology) to take steps to reduce the amount of salt in processed and restaurant food, while continuing to study the impact of such measures. But we also have to consider unintended consequences. Part of the reason salt is added to processed food is because it helps preserve it – give it a longer shelf life. People also develop a taste for salty food, and a sudden decrease in salt content may be unsatisfying, leading people to seek out higher salt foods. But these are technical problems that can be addressed.
It should also be noted that salt requirements and tolerance may vary considerably from individual to individual – based upon genetics, and certainly underlying diseases. Therefore recommendations from one’s doctor should supercede any general recommendations for the population.
In any case it seems that the War on Salt has begun. I only hope this is a war we choose to fight with science.

The last sentence left me gobsmacked. A war fought with science? Does he understand what exactly it means when a government wages war?

The essential feature of government is the enforcement of its decrees by beating, killing, and imprisoning. Those who are asking for more government interference are asking ultimately for more compulsion and less freedom.

Ludwig von Mises, Human Action

Let’s take, for example, the war on (some) drugs. 150 years ago, if I had described the government proscribing the growth of hemp, sowing poison on illicit fields in an attempt to kill marijuana smokers, sending paramilitary forces into homes with orders to shoot first and ask questions later, and setting up checkpoints where people with large amounts of cash would have it confiscated on the grounds it must be involved in this illicit trade, it would have beggared belief. Those who lobbied for its outlawing would have denied wanting to do those things, they merely wanted to protect white women from being seduced by black jazz musicians and to preserve the social order against uppity darkies.

And once the stuff was outlawed, once the law enforcement apparatus started to wage its low level guerrilla campaign, and faced resistance the government naturally escalated, flooding the media with propaganda to buttress its position, until the war became an end to itself, with otherwise sensible people saying things like “I am a fan of freedom but we must protect the citizenry against the scourge of drugs”

I am curious why the good Dr Novella thinks that a war on salt will turn out any better than the War on Gold, the War on Sucrose, the War on Opiates, the War on Miscegenation or any of the other social crusades little petit tyrants enlist the government to engage in?

Moreover, is he blind to the fact that these wars on inanimate substances and ideas are actually wars on people? It’s not the marijuana that’s getting its child’s hand shot off in a police raid, it’s a person. It’s not the marijuana who is having their life savings confiscated, it’s the retired couple who don’t trust banks. It’s not the marijuana who has his dogs shot in his home, its the hardworking mayor of a small town.

If I were to propose a War on the North Korean Government, I would imagine that Dr Novella might be a little reluctant to support it, given the large number of innocent people who would inevitably die having been propagandized into fanatically defending the state that looted and brutalized them so thoroughly.

But here, we get nary a peep of condemnation, only a pious desire to have “science” inform the strategy of the war on a common cooking ingredient, which will really be a war on people who use to much salt (according to the government) in their food preparation.

And, I should note, this war would have savage monsters like Mary Beth Buchanan deciding what was an appropriate amount of salt, just as she decided her judgment on how much pain medicine was appropriate for patients in chronic agony was better than that of the MD’s treating them, and used that rationale as justification on her war on doctors.

Dr Novella’s blindness it encoded in an assumption in the first sentence I quoted:

As usual, the medical and regulatory communities are tasked with making sense out of chaos – with implementing bottom-line recommendations in the face of inconclusive evidence.

Why are they tasked with this? Sure, doctors are asked to give advice on questions where there is no clear answer, much like any other profession. They have the power to say “I don’t know”, however. Moreover, there is nothing wrong with doctor’s giving advice. The act of making a suggestion does not actually harm anybody.

The regulatory apparatus, on the other hand, is dangerous. When it acts, people get hurt, they go to jail, they have their finances ruined. If we assume such an apparatus should exist, then we should use it only when the harm it does is worth the benefit. Otherwise, the regulatory apparatus need do nothing! Especially where there is no overwhelming evidence to justify regulation. It’s not as if salt causes an epidemic like cholera! The notion that people with vascular disease drives up health care costs requiring such regulation is laughable. Dr Novella has never, in all the essays he has authored that I am familiar with, shown much concern with the major reasons why health care costs are so high. If anything he supports the measures that are the primary drives of the high costs.

It is a shame that otherwise rational people fail to learn the lessons of history. Their blindness would not be so bothersome, if it weren’t for the fact that their hands are helping aim the guns pointed at us.

I am an anarcho-capitalist living just west of Boston Massachussetts. I am married, have two children, and am trying to start my own computer consulting company.

Congressional Thug Tries To Silence Free Speech

Meet Congressman Alan Grayson, a punk ass bitch and wannabe thoughtpoliceman

Not everyone thinks imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

In fact, U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson of Orlando took such offense at a parody Web site aimed at unseating him that the freshman Democrat asked U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to investigate the Lake County activist who started it.

In his four-page complaint, Grayson accuses Republican Angie Langley of lying to federal elections officials. In particular, he writes, the Clermont resident lives outside his district but still uses the term “my” in her Web site, mycongressmanisnuts.com. The name mocks a Web site started by Grayson, congressmanwithguts.com.

“Ms. Langley has deliberately masqueraded as a constituent of mine, in order to try to create the false appearance that she speaks for constituents who don’t support me,” writes Grayson. “[She] has chosen a name for her committee that is utterly tasteless and juvenile.”

Grayson’s office confirmed he wrote the letter — including the request that Langley be fined and “imprisoned for five years” — and released a statement from Grayson saying, “Everyone has to obey the law, even rude, right-wing cranks.”

Langley, a former top Republican official in Lake County, said the letter initially “scared the heck out” of her but that she got angry after an attorney friend — who is acting as legal adviser — told her that the accusations were “groundless.”

“This man is nothing but a bully and an intimidator,” she said.

For those of you who don’t know Alan Grayson, he’s also the little punk who has described the GOP health care plan as dying quickly among other things. He’s basically the Sarah Palin or the Joe the Plumber of the left. Now this wannabe commissar is trying to jail a woman for expressing her opinion. Here’s a little obstacle to that:

Amendment 1 – Freedom of Religion, Press, Expression

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

There are no gulags in this country for those who speak against members of Congress, Representative Grayson. Hopefully his constituents will send this thug into retirement next year.

Related Link: Alan Grayson is Nuts

Edited on 12/20/2009 at 8:06PM to insert related before link

I’m one of the original co-founders of The Liberty Papers all the way back in 2005. Since then, I wound up doing this blogging thing professionally. Now I’m running the site now. You can find my other work at IJ Review.com and Rare. You can also find me over at the R Street Institute.

When the Government Controls Medical Care …

… patients are an expense or liability to be gotten rid of rather than a source of profit who must be served.

Much of the problems with government supplied health care can be traced to this truth concerning incentives.  A hospital is not paid more if they treat people well.  They don’t lose money if they do a poor job.  They face no liability; any judgment the government permits to be levied against them is made up by taxes looted from the productive classes.

And, the goal of a medical care provider is to please his pay-masters rather than the patients he treats; and all to frequently when the interests of patients and the government clash, the patients will lose out.

This phenomenon is quite evident in the sad case of British Corporal Matthew Millington of the Queen’s Royal Lancers who died at the age of 31 from lung cancer, after receiving – in a transplant – the cancerous lungs of a smoker who averaged 30 – 50 cigarettes a day.

Why would a hospital implant the lungs of a person who smokes so many cigarettes a day into a patient?  Was it the result of an inexperienced surgical team making a ghastly mistake?  No.  The surgery was performed by Papworth Hospital in England,  which is the main transplant hospital in the United Kingdom, whose spokesmen claim that in fact everything was done properly!

A spokeswoman for Papworth, the UK’s leading cardiothoracic hospital, said that it was not unusual to use smokers’ lungs, adding that all organs are “screened rigorously” before a transplant. “We have a strong record of high quality outcomes and this is an extremely rare case.”

In the past year there were 146 lung transplants in the UK, and 84 people died while waiting on the transplant list, she added. “If we had a policy saying we did not use the lungs of those who smoked, then the number of lung transplants would have been significantly lower.”

Let us ignore the fact that the supply of organs is kept low by the superstitiously premised laws outlawing people from selling their own organs. Let us pass over the laughably implausible claim that transplanting smokers’ lungs results in acceptably good outcomes.

Let us, instead, focus on the question of how the hospital handled the case of Corporal Millington of the Queen’s Lancers and compare it to how a hospital that saw him as a customer would have treated him.

Often the detractors of free markets accuse it of being a dehumanizing system of cut-throat competition.  What they do not realize is that when two people engage in trade, they are cooperating.  The competition is between actors striving to be the best cooperators with prospective trading partners.  In a free market, the providers of health care services would be competing to see which one of them could better care for a prospective customer.

Thus, in a free market, Corporal Millington would have contracted with the hospital that sought to cooperate with him most effectively.  He would have chosen a hospital that committed to satisfy his need for undiseased, functional lungs at an affordable price.   In a free market, the availability of disease-free lungs would have been much higher; people would be far more likely to sign up to supply  their organs for transplant if their heirs or estate would be paid a fair market price for them, and the hospital would not have to worry about waiting lists.

However, had the new lungs developed cancer (and let’s not forget occasionally non-smokers get lung-cancer too), the hospital would have had a strong incentive to make it right, either out of a sense of obligation or out of fear of retribution; In a free market, there are two incentives to keep unscrupulous people treating their customers well.  The first is, of course, the fear of lawsuits.  the second, though, is their greed for future profits and their fear of losing these future profits should they ever develop a bad reputation.  The latter can particularly devastating.  The McDonald-Douglas Aircraft Company, for example, was nearly driven into bankruptcy by the perception that the DC-10 was an unsafe aircraft.  To this day, the Massengill corporation has never returned to the drug-making business after the debacle of 1938.  The yellow press would love nothing better to go after a hospital for transplanting diseased organs into a patient; the readership and viewership of such pieces would bring in a tidy sum in advertising dollars.

Thus the hospital, if nothing else to avoid the collapse of their business after a widespread accusation of incompetence/malpractice, would face a huge opportunity cost if they forewent transplanting in a new, second set of lungs.

But, unfortunately for Corporal Millington, he wasn’t the customer of Papworth.  Rather, some officials of the NHS were. The desire of the actual customers (NHS) were to keep costs down by a) cutting corners on the type of lungs transplanted into patients, b) concerning themselves with patient outcomes in the aggregate, and reducing seemingly unnecessary, redundant duplication of services by centralizing transplants as much as possible.

Thus they faced no economic loss for allowing him to die of cancer.  There was no profit to saving him; in fact, saving him would have been an expense.  They didn’t have to cooperate with Corporal Millington and so they didn’t.

I am an anarcho-capitalist living just west of Boston Massachussetts. I am married, have two children, and am trying to start my own computer consulting company.

The Original “War on Terror”

The first recorded mention of the term “War on Terror” in the New York Times did not occur after 9/11 as many would assume… In fact it was in 1934, and wasn’t even about the U.S.

You might be shocked as to exactly which nation it was about… or perhaps not…

War On Terror

(New York Times) December 4, 1934


Soviet Arrests 71 In War On ‘Terror’

Spurred by the assassination of Sergei M. Kiroff, the Soviet Government has struck its heaviest blow in years at those whom it regards as plotters of terroristic acts against Soviet officials.

With dramatic suddenness it was announced early this morning that seventy-one persons had been arrested and haled to trial before the military collegium of the Supreme Court of the USSR. Thirty-two of these were seized in the Moscow region and thirty-nene in the Leningrad region. They are stigmatized as “White Guards” and accused of plotting terroristic activities.

* * * * *

By the terms of a decree adopted by the central government immediately after the Kremlin received the news of M. Kiroff’s death, terrorists and plotters are to be tried swiftly and to be executed immediately without opportunity for appeal.

Now I’m not one of those pseudo-intellectual mental midgets who would compare the U.S. efforts directly to Stalins reign of terror (however they couched it as a “war on terror”); but one should at the least be able to recognize the historical irony.

I am a cynically romantic optimistic pessimist. I am neither liberal, nor conservative. I am a (somewhat disgruntled) muscular minarchist… something like a constructive anarchist.

Basically what that means, is that I believe, all things being equal, responsible adults should be able to do whatever the hell they want to do, so long as nobody’s getting hurt, who isn’t paying extra

The Other Bad Healthcare “Reform” Bill

The Senate Finance Committee is finishing up work this week on a “compromise” Obamacare bill that’s being billed as better than pure Obamacare because it doesn’t include “death panels”, a public option, and free healthcare for illegal aliens.

The chairman of the Senate Finance Committee said Monday that he will propose an overhaul of the nation’s health-care system that addresses a host of GOP concerns, including blocking illegal immigrants from gaining access to subsidized insurance, urging limits on medical malpractice lawsuits and banning federal subsidies for abortion.

But even after Max Baucus (D-Mont.) spoke optimistically of gaining bipartisan backing, lawmakers continued to haggle over a question at the heart of the debate: How can the government force people to buy insurance without imposing a huge new financial burden on millions of middle-class Americans?

Finally this bill is debating the real issue, what right does the Federal government have to force Americans to buy health insurance? Surprisingly, one of the most outspoken opponents of the individual mandate in this form is from the left.

Even within his own party, Baucus confronted a fresh wave of concern about affordability. Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) declared himself dissatisfied with the chairman’s plan, which, like other congressional reform proposals, would require every American to buy health insurance by 2013.

“Additional steps are going to have to be taken to make coverage more affordable,” Wyden said, “and my sense is that will be a concern to members on both sides of the aisle.”

Under the Baucus plan, described in a “framework” he released last week, as many as 4 million of the 46 million people who are currently uninsured would be required to buy coverage on their own, without government help, by some estimates. Millions more would qualify for federal tax credits, but could still end up paying as much as 13 percent of their income for insurance premiums — far more than most Americans now pay for coverage.

People further down the income scale would receive much bigger tax credits, effectively limiting their premiums at 3 percent of their earnings. But experts on affordability say even those families could find it difficult to meet the new mandate without straining their wallets.

“We’re talking about the equivalent of a middle-class tax increase,” said Michael D. Tanner, a health-care expert at the libertarian Cato Institute. “Yes, they’re paying it to an insurance company instead of to the government. But, suddenly, these people are paying more money to somebody.”

So American taxpayers will have to pay higher insurance premiums than they have to now or be fined by the government under this “compromise” bill. So far, this bill does nothing to solve the biggest problem with American healthcare, the high cost of it. Opponents of this bill on the left characterize this bill as nothing more than a giveaway to the insurance companies, and they’re right. The way to reduce the cost of healthcare is to increase competition and the free market’s role in healthcare and again, this bill does nothing to reduce regulation, increase competition, or promote the free market.

But there’s even more….

Also unresolved Monday was the question of how to pay for an expansion of Medicaid to cover every U.S. citizen whose income falls below 133 percent of the federal poverty level, about $14,500 for an individual or $29,500 for a family of four. Governors in both parties strongly oppose an expansion that is not fully financed by the federal government. The Senate negotiators are scheduled to brief governors by conference call Tuesday afternoon, and Baucus predicted they would be “pleasantly surprised.”

“The Medicaid costs,” he said, “are not going to cost states near as much as feared.”

Max Baucus wants the states to just “trust him”. In addition to higher insurance premiums and tax increases for those who don’t buy health insurance, Baucus plans on making the bad financial conditions that every state is in even worse with this unfunded mandate. States have to close their budget deficits some how and that some how is usually tax increases.

But there’s even more….from the Wall Street Journal

Sen. John Kerry (D., Mass.) raised concerns about Mr. Baucus’s mix of new taxes and other means of paying for the plan. Among other things, Mr. Baucus is proposing to levy a new tax on so-called gold-plated health policies. He also wants to levy new fees on health insurers, pharmaceutical companies and other health-care industries.

“There may be a better way to find that revenue,” Sen. Kerry said. He suggested he’ll be looking for changes, though he declined to offer specifics. “We are going to have a tug of war,” he said, describing the chairman’s soon-to-be-unveiled bill as a “starting point” for a new round of negotiations on details. “That’s the process of legislating,” he said.

So there’s even more tax increases, this time on health insurance companies (which will be a wash for them since they’re getting bailed out in this bill), drug companies, and the health care industry in general. In addition, if Max Baucus doesn’t like your health insurance policy, he’s going to tax it too. Well, the taxed businesses have to make up that lost revenue some how by raising their products’ prices or cutting jobs.

To recap, the Baucus “compromise” Obamacare/health insurance companies bailout plan:

Requires all Americans to buy “approved” health insurance plans and raises taxes on those who don’t buy health insurance plans Max Baucus likes

Gives the IRS more power to levy higher taxes, without due process

Raises taxes on health care related businesses

Makes every state’s financial situation even worse, which will lead to more budget cuts or tax increases through an unfunded mandate to increase Medicaid enrollment.

Increases the cost of health care for most Americans

“Hope and Change” indeed, comrades.

I’m one of the original co-founders of The Liberty Papers all the way back in 2005. Since then, I wound up doing this blogging thing professionally. Now I’m running the site now. You can find my other work at IJ Review.com and Rare. You can also find me over at the R Street Institute.

Obama: You’re doing a heck’uva job, Bernie

Continuing his George Costanzaesque presidency, Obama has decided to reappoint Ben “Helicopter” Bernanke to another term on the Fed.

Here’s what Obama had to say:

Ben approached a financial system on the verge of collapse with calm and wisdom; with bold action and outside-the-box thinking that has helped put the brakes on our economic freefall

I thought it might be useful to take a look at some highlights of this Solon, this central – planner whom George Bush put in charge of the money supply:

Of course, as usual, Obama is dead wrong: the Federal Reserve’s actions have actually prolonged the downturn, made it worse, and have laid the foundations for an even bigger crash down the road.

Monetary Base of U.S. Dollar

In the days before the election, I told many of my fellow Massachusetts residents that Obama was not so much a break from George Bush as a continuation of his worst policies. I am sorry to say that he has been proving me right since. And this is yet another nail in the coffin of an administration that is showing itself to be even more incompetent than the Bush presidency.

I am an anarcho-capitalist living just west of Boston Massachussetts. I am married, have two children, and am trying to start my own computer consulting company.

Papers Please

Over at the Agitator, Radley Balko asks why people are amused by Bob Dylan’s latest run-in with the law.

I find it pretty depressing. There was a time when we condescendingly used the term “your papers, please” to distinguish ourselves from Eastern Block countries and other authoritarian states. Post-Hiibel, America has become a place where a harmless, 68-year-old man out on a stroll can be stopped, interrogated, detained, and forced to produce proof of identification to state authorities, despite having committed no crime.

Maybe what makes it comical rather than a tragedy is that it happened to a famous guy rather than some ordinary person.

I am an anarcho-capitalist living just west of Boston Massachussetts. I am married, have two children, and am trying to start my own computer consulting company.

Control Without Responsibility

At Cafe Hayek, a letter to the editor by Andy Morriss to the Wall Street Journal is posted:

Holman Jenkins asks “Does Obama Want to Own the Airlines?” (Business World, July 8). I am sure he does not. Rather than own them, the president and his congressional allies want to control the airlines — a crucial difference as ownership implies taking responsibility.

As Mr. Jenkins notes, the Justice Department’s belated intervention against Continental’s efforts to join the Star Alliance appears aimed at extorting concessions for the Democrats’ union allies. That is not the action of an owner of airline assets but of someone determined to redistribute wealth from airline passengers and shareholders to favored special interests.

One of the many benefits of free markets is that the people who own something are the ones who experience the benefits or losses accruing from their use of it. When considering how some property is going to be used, an owner and non-owner may have very strong opinions. The non-owner, who has less to lose, will be less careful and prudent in their decisionmaking. Moreover, often the non-owner will gain more from the misuse of the item than from its prudent use.

One does not have to look to hard to see this phenomenon in action. The attempt by GM to close dealerships, and thus reduce its losses was overridden by Congressmen interested in using GM’s wealth to buy votes by keeping the dealerships open. And that is one example of literally millions of instances that take place every year from all levels of government.

Obama, leading democrats and some very influential economists have repeatedly expressed the idea that increased government control of the medical industry would reduce costs without sacrificing quality. In their vision selfless government officials will ensure that people receive high quality treatment regardless of the cost, while the market power of government as a customer will ensure that costs will stay low. Against this charming vision stands a great body of evidence from public choice theory; government officials – or their private counterparts in the private-public partnerships in vogue today – will be able to exert control without any consequences. Just as medicare and medicaid administrators proved willing to authorize higher and higher treatment prices – to the point where it threatens the budget of the federal and nearly every state government – the administrators of any new government program will behave in similar uneconomic ways.

Control without responsibility is a very bad idea.

I am an anarcho-capitalist living just west of Boston Massachussetts. I am married, have two children, and am trying to start my own computer consulting company.

Government Is Not Society

One of the most pernicious beliefs held by Americans is the conflation of the state with society. This belief is causing them acquiesce to government actions that threaten the destruction of American civilization if not stopped.

The word society comes to us from the Latin societas, which meant a group of people bound by friendship or a common interest.  The societies we participate in are the manifold groups that people join in order to accomplish various goals, for protection, for commerce, for companionship.  When compared to a life of autarky, of isolated independence, the benefits of societies become clear.  The defining characteristic of society is that membership in a society is voluntary. Whenever a person feels that a society no longer meets their needs, they can exit it – choosing another one to replace it or even going without.

Of course, one of the primary functions of the societies we join are to fulfill those needs we have that we cannot fulfill ourselves.  We depend on our families, friends, fraternal organizations, etc to care for us when we are sick, to provide for us when we cannot provide for ourselves.  These acts of charity, when provided to us by people who do it voluntarily using the means that they have acquired through peaceful means, are a necessary component of civilization.  Remove charitable interactions from society and we cease to live in a state of civilization and return to a state of barbarism.

The state, on the other hand, is an organization that is distinguished by violent action.  It acquires resources not through peaceful economic interaction but through threats of violence.  When it threatens wrong-doers – such as thieves, rapists or murderers – it can be useful; scaring other would be thieves, rapists and murderers from committing similar crimes. But all too often, such as when it orders the destruction of livestock in order to raise the market price of meat, it is a social bad that leaves everyone worse off.

The state is powerful.  It can commandeer vast resources.  It does not have to make anything; it does not need to trade for anything;  it merely takes what it wants.  However, the state is not all powerful; tomorrow the people could rise up and hang all the officers of the state from the lamp-posts.  Its officers must ensure that their plunder or violence does not rise to such a level as to incite too much active resistance.   These men and women therefore promote the fiction that the state is not a predator but engaged in trade with the people, exchanging protection and other services for “contributions” as they term the taxes they extort from the populace.

Over the last 100 years, the state has systematically weakened or coopted the institutions of society.  It has, via the welfare system, taken over much of the provisioning of charity.  It controls commerce via regulation.  It dicates what insurance companies can and cannot do.  It tightly controls medical care.  Most dangerously, it has taken over the education of the young. And everything it has taken over has taken on the characteristics that typically accompany violence and extortion; shoddy service, excessive prices or compelled payments, and draconian punishments.

And far too many people, never having experienced society where these institutions or social needs were provisioned voluntarily rather than by the state, are left ignorant of any idea that that is even possible.  And so, when they are warned that Medicare and Social Security threaten economic ruin, they think that the speaker is contemplating casting the old and sick out on the street to die.  When they hear a call for the abolition of govenrment schooling, they imagine the speaker must want the broad mass of children to be left uneducated.  When they hear the call for the end of medical licensing or pharmaceutical regulations, they imagine that people will be subjected to all sorts of quackery. When they hear a call for an end of standing armies and the purchase of expensive weapons systems, they imagine that the speaker must naively want to invite a tyrant to waltz in and take over.

Too many people, no doubt from their experiences in schools where the classrooms are presided over mostly benevolent dictators called teachers, assume that society must be arranged in a similar vein, with leaders who make and enforce the rules, where there is no right of refusal or exit.

In the end, though, while it can commandeer impressive resources, and thus accomplish mighty things, the state invariably consumes more and produces less than organizations that it replaces.  It replaces the civilization of people voluntarily bonding together with the barbarism of compelled relationships, compelled production and compelled trade.

Today, the various governments that rule over Americans, taken together, commandeer or consume some 40% of production.  The more production the government seizes, the worse off we will be.  The greater the control government exercises over society, the worse off we all are.

One way to put things in perspective is, when considering how some need is to be supplied, to ask if you would be comfortable with the Mafia providing it.  After all, the mafia is really a proto-government, using extortion and violence to commandeer resources. Both are protection rackets, although the Mafia takes far less than the government.  While most people wouldn’t be too upset with the idea of the mafia punishing a rapist, most would laugh derisively at the idea of the mafia running a school, or operating a hospital.  This recognition arises from the fact that no-one conflates the Mafia with society.  If only they were so wise about the state!

I am an anarcho-capitalist living just west of Boston Massachussetts. I am married, have two children, and am trying to start my own computer consulting company.

Government Abandons Lying; Resorts To Pure Naked Threats

I’m at a loss. I don’t know what world can justify this, and can only hope that my readers will be just as appalled as I am, because I have nothing to add.

WASHINGTON (AP) — Former Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson testified on Thursday that he pressured Bank of America Corp. last year to go through with its plans to buy Merrill Lynch but didn’t tell the bank’s chief to hide potential losses from shareholders.

Paulson acknowledged that he warned the bank’s CEO, Kenneth Lewis, that Lewis could lose his job if he dropped the deal. Paulson also said he pledged government aid to the bank but declined to put that promise in writing because the details would have been vague and would have to be disclosed publicly by the Treasury Department.

In testimony to the committee, Paulson said he told Lewis last year that reneging on his promise to purchase Merrill Lynch would show a “colossal lack of judgment.”

Paulson said that “under such circumstances,” the Federal Reserve would be justified in removing management at the bank.

“By referring to the Federal Reserve’s supervisory powers, I intended to deliver a strong message reinforcing the view that had been consistently expressed by the Federal Reserve, as Bank of America’s regulator, and shared by the Treasury, that it would be unthinkable for Bank of America to take this destructive action for which there was no reasonable legal basis and which would show a lack of judgment,” Paulson said.

Paulson said he believed his remarks to Lewis were “appropriate.”

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke has denied threatening to oust Lewis and said he never told anyone else to, either. But another Fed official suggested otherwise in an e-mail obtained by House investigators.

Jeffrey Lacker, president of the Richmond Federal Reserve Bank, said in a December 2008 e-mail that Bernanke had planned to make “even more clear” that if Bank of America backed out on the deal, “management is gone.”

Paulson said Bernanke never asked him to relay the message. But, he added, he believed he was expressing the Fed’s opinion that dropping the deal “would raise serious questions about the competence and judgment of Bank of America’s management and board.”

I’ve previously covered this type of activity by Paulson & Bernanke here and here.

Symbolic Victories Are Often Real Losses

Judging from his statements and the note he left in his car, James von Brunn walked into the Holocaust Museum believing that he was about to strike a blow against Jewish world hegemony and Federal gun-control.  Even by his twisted standards, his actions were counterproductive. His plan was to massacre people visiting and working at the holocaust museum, and to symbolically harm Jews, whom he believed were looting non-Jewish people through their control of the government and the financial industry among others.

Let us examine, though, the effects of von Brunn’s attack.  He murdered a security guard, Stephen T. Johns (who, it should be noted, had courteously opened the door let in the man who would murder him).  Within hours, the security guards who shot von Brunn down were rightly being lionized, and by extension, the entire apparatus of security-guards-cum-metal-detectors that have come to characterize the modern U.S.   People started agitating for further limitations on weapons ownership, freedom of speech and against organizations that agitate for freeing people from government oversight.  There was a massive outpouring of sympathy for Jews.  Two days after von Brunn’s attack, about the time doctors were concluding that he would survive his wounds, the Holocaust museum was open for business. No doubt within a week they will have hired Stephen Johns’ replacement.

In other words, from von Brunn’s perspective he lost: he suffered life threatening wounds, incited in people a hatred of his movement, shot an easily replaced, ‘expendable’ guard and shut a museum down for one day while giving it lots of free publicity.

Much as we libertarians abhor murderous savages like von Brunn, we should take note of the effects of his attack.  His attack is one of many that all demonstrate an important rule of resistance against the state.  Like John Brown’s attack on Harper’s Ferry,  the assassination of McKinley, and countless other acts of symbolic violence, von Brunn’s attack discredited his movement and increased sympathy for his opponents.

Hardly a month goes by without some fellow libertarian radical posting a comment to the effect that the second amendment is what protects the other rights supposedly enshrined in the U.S. Constitution, or writing cliched statements containing the phrase “ballot box, soap box, ammo box”.  In the 2008 primary season, Ron Paul supporters reveled in their symbolic victory after they chased Rudy Giuliani off the weather-deck of a ferry.

While such chest-thumping is very satisfying, and satisfies a psychological need to feel powerful, it  is usually a losing strategy;  any action that swings sympathy towards our opponents will make us weaker.  The psychology of crowds is fairly well understood.  Crowds hate the weak.  Paradoxically, crowds also envy the powerful. They want security and to live free of fear and uncertainty.  They don’t care about philosophy, and their conception of justice and morality is a crude, instinctual one that is the product of human evolution.

Turning the mob in a pro-freedom direction requires a combination of the following:

  • Inciting in people a hatred and contempt of the political classes and the bureaucrat and police who do their bidding.
  • Making people aware of how badly the political classes are ripping them off.
  • Developing institutions that perform social functions that do not use coercion to acquire resources.
  • Encouraging people to rely on themselves and those institutions.

Most violent/semi-violent protests incite in people a fear of the protestors.  The people then turn to the government to protect them from the scary protestors.  When the protests or political actions or symbolic acts of vandalism don’t accomplish any meaningful change, the net result is a stronger, more powerful government that has been given permission to suppress the movement that the symbolic act was meant to promote.

Successful protest movements like the black civil rights movement succeeded precisely because the symbolic acts encouraged people to identify with the protesters.  When the police set german shepherds on black people walking in orderly columns, the people seeing the images and video saw the police as the dangerous mob and the protesters as being the civilized, non-threatening party to the conflict.

It is very important that we who advocate for freedom keep this in mind; disorderly or scary behavior turns people against us.  Freedom is civilized. Commerce is peaceful. Free markets are bountiful.  Let us  allow the government an uncontested claim on the mantle of civilization-threatening barbarity it has worked so hard to earn.

I am an anarcho-capitalist living just west of Boston Massachussetts. I am married, have two children, and am trying to start my own computer consulting company.

It’s Time to Impeach Obama

It’s time to impeach Obama; indict him, and his entire administration, for fraud, coercion, extortion, influence peddling, and grand theft under the color of law, amongst hundreds of other charges.

It is not simply the auto issue; but that is currently the most visible.

This is no hyperbole. I am not simply spouting off. I believe, and will from this point forward, work to see, Barack Obama impeached, charged, indicted, tried, and imprisoned, for the crimes he and his cronies have committed against this nation, and its people.

Also, let me make this clear: This is NOT about politics, or at least not about political ideology. I believe that everyone, left, right, libertarian, or indifferent to ideology; should see what Obama and his administration are doing, and understand the damage it is doing, and will do, to this country.

We cannot allow our nation to become a nation of men. We MUST remain a nation of laws.

At this point, Obama, and his administration, aren’t even bothering to PRETEND to obey the law, or the constitution. They have embarked on a campaign of theft and fraud never seen before in the history of man kind; knowing that they had the full cover of the media protecting them, a friendly congress, and a co-operative judiciary.

They are in clear violation of the constitution, and hundreds if not thousands, of state and federal laws; blatantly and knowingly flouting them in fact, because, in Obamas words, “We won”.

Well, I’m sorry sir, for now at least, we are still a nation of laws; and you must be brought to account.

I am a cynically romantic optimistic pessimist. I am neither liberal, nor conservative. I am a (somewhat disgruntled) muscular minarchist… something like a constructive anarchist.

Basically what that means, is that I believe, all things being equal, responsible adults should be able to do whatever the hell they want to do, so long as nobody’s getting hurt, who isn’t paying extra

Why Do We Keep Believing Them?

Men (and women) who physically abuse their spouses often express remorse afterwards. “Come Back Baby, I won’t hit you anymore” they say. And puzzlingly, their battered spouses often say yes, even though this latest offer is probably just as unlikely to be true as the previous 600 offers. To those of us observing such a relationship from the outside it is often a bewildering experience; we can’t understand why a person would trust a serial liar and leave themselves vulnerable to yet another attack. Many of us even look down on the victim; after all, we would never allow someone to take advantage of us in this way!

If you think about it, though, this bravado is probably wrong. The victims of this abuse are human beings just like me or you, dear reader. Why wouldn’t you react in ways similar to these chronic victims? You are not so different! You behave this way towards an organization that is incredibly abusive, that bullies you at every turn, that is far more controlling than most abusive spouses, whose officers not only lie often, but know that they are making promises that they have no intention of keeping. I am speaking of the state, a barbaric organized crime gang that take advantage of you at every turn, and then demands that you thank them for it.

A typical promise made by the state and the lying lyers who people it is that a) they need expanded powers to provide some service effectively, and that b) they will never abuse them, never, ever, ever, cross their hearts and hope to die. Typically the ink hasn’t had time to dry before the promise is broken. I will ignore the many examples of this phenomenon with regards to how Native Americans were betrayed by the U.S. government in favor of looking at seatbelt laws.

Those of us who are older than 30 remember a time when it was legally permissible to drive a car while unbelted to the seat. State by state, proponents of seatbelt laws held campaigns to require people by law to wear a seat-belt. Almost universally the campaigners promised that the law would be such that police wouldn’t peer into our cars and pull us over if we weren’t wearing them. It would be a secondary offense, we were assured, an additional ticket given to those pulled over for genuine moving violations. Today, that assurance lies in tatters. In most states the police can pull you over if they think you aren’t wearing a seat-belt. “Click it or ticket” is the new mantra.

Let’s move past a little thing like seat-belt laws. Instead, let’s look at something more substantial. Remember the promises of that vile traitor, George Bush, when he ran for office in 2000? Remember “a humble foreign policy” and “restoring the rule of law”? How about his promises to execute a spendthrift fiscal policy? What did he do once he got in office? Tried to foment a war with China, fomented a war with Iraq, expanded medicare, attempted to nationalize the stock market, failed, then did it again successfully using a crisis as an excuse. How many of you who voted for George Bush in 2000 would have voted for him had he run on a platform promising to do what he actually did? It’s safe to say that President Al Gore would have had an easy run to victory had candidate George Bush run an honest campaign. Had Barack Obama vowed to continue the war in Iraq and expand the war in Afghanistan while shoveling corporate welfare at the investment banks that his treasury secretary had worked at, President McCain would be enjoying his run as a 21st century reincarnation of Teddy Roosevelt.

From Pearl Harbor to 9/11, from the Great Depression to the Collapse of the Housing Bubble, government officials, and the elites whom they serve have been hyping or generating crises which they then use as an excuse to impoverish us. And we, like a battered wife who fears what will happen to her should her man leave her, let them.

George Bush abused us. Barack Obama is abusing us right now. In two years, some people will announce that they want to be president and will do right by us. If elected, they will turn out to be abusers too. It does not matter whether they wave posters of Donkeys, Elephants, Rainbows or whatever the mascot the Libertarian Party likes to wave around; in the end they will hurt you.

Our only hope for ending the abuse is to kick the bums out! And by that I mean it is time to dissolve our governments. I call upon all of you to support constitutional amendments to dissolve not only the U.S. government, but your state governments as well. De-incorporate your towns. Teach your children to hate the flag, not salute it.

Make these predators earn an honest living for a change. Sitting around hoping that they will turn over a new leaf is about as futile as hoping a leopard will change its spots. It’s not going to happen. Politicians and civil “servants” (so-called) only stop their abuse only when they are deprived of their offices.

I am an anarcho-capitalist living just west of Boston Massachussetts. I am married, have two children, and am trying to start my own computer consulting company.

DHS Pulls Report On “Right-Wing Extremism”

It was just a little over a month ago that our own Stephen Gordon was among the first to break the story about a Department of Homeland of Security report that appeared to label most conservatives and libertarians in the country as “extremists.”

Now, the Washington Times reports that DHS has officially pulled the report:

A contentious “Rightwing Extremism” report that warned of military veterans as possible recruits for terrorist attacks against the U.S. was not authorized, has been withdrawn and is being rewritten, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano told Capitol Hill lawmakers.

“The wheels came off the wagon because the vetting process was not followed,” Ms. Napolitano told the House Homeland Security Committee on Wednesday.

“The report is no longer out there,” she said. “An employee sent it out without authorization.”

The report was shared with state and local law enforcement officials nationwide via the department’s internal Web site on April 7, angering Republican lawmakers and military veterans who said it unfairly stereotyped veterans.

Ms. Napolitano did not say when the report was taken off the “intel Web site” and all Homeland Security Department Web sites, but she said it is in the process of being “replaced or redone in a much more useful and much more precise fashion.”

Of course, that doesn’t really answer the question of whether or not the report reflects official thinking inside DHS as to what the difference is between a terrorist and a political protester.

Obama Administration Setting Compensation — For Non-TARP Banks

obama-teaching
I’ve said I was going to write a post — one that I’ve been thinking about since Obama’s 100-day mark — on how much worse his Presidency has been than I feared. I expected him to be a typical Democrat in the mold of a Clinton. I expected him to be a typical politician. I knew he’d be a tax-and-spender, and ramp up on regulation, but he’s taken things to a whole new level.

But he has shown in a little over 100 days that he’s ideologically in line with FDR when it comes to the power of government, and he’s determined not to “let a good crisis go to waste.” So it was with resigned dismay that I read this:

The Obama administration has begun serious talks about how it can change compensation practices across the financial-services industry, including at companies that did not receive federal bailout money, according to people familiar with the matter.

The initiative, which is in its early stages, is part of an ambitious and likely controversial effort to broadly address the way financial companies pay employees and executives, including an attempt to more closely align pay with long-term performance.

Among ideas being discussed are Fed rules that would curb banks’ ability to pay employees in a way that would threaten the “safety and soundness” of the bank — such as paying loan officers for the volume of business they do, not the quality. The administration is also discussing issuing “best practices” to guide firms in structuring pay.

This is a pure, naked, power grab. They want to claim that the compensation packages threaten the health of the wider economy (when things like over-leverage were the real culprits) and thus don’t want to simply limit compensation for those who took government funds — they want to regulate it all.

Remember the sea change in government authority, attitudes, and impact on the economy that followed the Great Depression and the New Deal? Well, folks, you’re watching the sequel. And I don’t see any way to stop it.

Hat Tip: Cafe Hayek (where Russ Roberts is simply left speechless by this)

Bundling The Banks Into A TARP

Geithner's Treasury Grabs A Bank
Back in October, the banks appeared to be in very deep trouble. Such deep trouble that they were forced to enter a deal with the Devil decided to run to the government for assistance. But they were shocked — SHOCKED! — when the government starting attaching a whole bunch of regulations and conditions to the deal after the fact.

So they want to return the money. And the government won’t take it back without a fight:

The bottom line for the banks is that if they want out of TARP, they have to be able to withdraw from all the other sources of emergency public support that the government has given them. If they want the support, then they have to agree to the conditions and regulations that come with TARP. No subsidies without regulations. To put it into more common terms, banks can decide to break up with the government or they can decide to stay together. But they don’t get to be friends with benefits.

Imagine the outcry from utility regulators if you signed up for the sports package with your cable company because you wanted, say, SpeedTV. After a while, you grow tired of the programming and all the extra cost because you don’t think you need to pay for TVG and all the other channels, so you call the company and try to cancel the sports package. And they tell you that if you want to quit the sports package, you’ll have to cancel cable, internet, and phone service altogether — you can’t have just one!

I think Stuart Varney lays it out quite well (c/o Michael Wade @ QandO):

I must be naive. I really thought the administration would welcome the return of bank bailout money. Some $340 million in TARP cash flowed back this week from four small banks in Louisiana, New York, Indiana and California. This isn’t much when we routinely talk in trillions, but clearly that money has not been wasted or otherwise sunk down Wall Street’s black hole. So why no cheering as the cash comes back?

My answer: The government wants to control the banks, just as it now controls GM and Chrysler, and will surely control the health industry in the not-too-distant future. Keeping them TARP-stuffed is the key to control. And for this intensely political president, mere influence is not enough. The White House wants to tell ‘em what to do. Control. Direct. Command.

I’ll have a more detailed post coming up when I get around to it, but I think I, too, was naive. I expected more from Obama. I honestly believed that he was actually trying to become President because he wanted to improve outcomes, not just drive the train. I was sure, of course, that Obama was going to be pointing us the wrong direction, but I thought he was at least going to try to do so carefully, efficiently, and taking input from all sides before doing so. In short, I knew I wasn’t going to like him, but I thought he was going to be reasonable.

Not so much. He wants to control the financial sector. He doesn’t just want to fix it, he wants to remake it according to his own ideology. He doesn’t want them to succeed without government; he wants them to be dependent on government. I thought Bush was an exceptionally authoritarian President, but it seems that he was just laying the groundwork for Barack Obama.

The Feds have the banks in the grasp of their talons and they’re squeezing. And by god they won’t let up until submission is complete.

Overeducated Redneck

One of the things that has always amazed (and amused, and irritated) me, is the willingness of those on the left to dismiss me, and those of my political bent, as racists, hicks, ignorant, rednecks (as if those things were synonymous) etc…

Any time I’ve written about the evils of collectivism, how firearms are as important to freedom as speech, how political correctness is as damaging to freedom as any other form of censorship, how liberal and leftists ideas just don’t work (no matter how well intentioned they are), how islamofascism… or any other kind of fascism for that matter… are anathema to liberty and the well being of a people… Like clockwork there they are calling me an ignorant, racist, redneck (and it’s always those three together for some reason).

Well first thing, I’m generally certain that I’m considerably more intelligent, educated, and informed than those calling me ignorant (and for that matter, they are almost certainly racists whether they realize it or not; and I am definitely not; but that’s another post entirely); but that doesn’t address the point I want to make here.

To these people, redneck is an insult. So is “cowboy” for that matter, or really anything to do with rural America or “country”.

This is of course another form of class warfare, and identity politics. By calling me a redneck, they believe they are dismissing me, my ideas, my opinions, and the facts I present; as not credible, irrelevant, or below them.

Well… to me, call me a redneck, and that’s a compliment. They didn’t intend it that way, but it is.

To their conception, all intelligent, educated, perceptive people must surely agree with them; and anyone who doesn’t follow their false faith of transnational progressivism must therefore be either stupid, evil, or ignorant (or some combination of the three); i.e. a “Redneck” as they see it.

This is especially amusing to me, as given my minarchist libertarian views, some on the far right would consider me just as evil for not following THEIR faith of coerced morality through the force of government.

Of course on its face calling me a redneck would seem ridiculous. By the leftists own expectations, I should be “one of them”.

I was born and raised in and around Boston Massachusetts (with a side trip into Northern New Hampshire. I live in Arizona now, by choice and circumstance). I lived there until I was 16; attending a public school in theory, but most of my education was from a special “gifted” students program called “ACE”, which stood for Accelerated Cognitive Education.

In the ACE program, I started taking 8th grade level classes in 3rd grade, with private tutors and at local private schools. By the time I was a sophomore in high school I had completed most of the first two years worth of general education college courses at local colleges.

I graduated high school at 16; and from there I went on to two degrees at a small private engineering college.

My family are typical Boston Irish. A mix of blue collar, government employees, teachers, cops, firemen, tradesmen, and of course politicians. Most of them are either union democrats, or straight liberals (though surprisingly the politicians in the family were mostly Republicans).

So, as I said, by all their expectations, I should be one of them (and the fact that I’m not seems to drive some of them to even greater lengths of apoplectic rage).

The difference is all in the decisions I made for myself.

I decided to leave home at 16, because my home environment was bad; but I did it going to college. I made something of myself, though I hasten to say a college education is neither necessary, nor sufficient, to do so. My younger brother, in the same environment and with similar native intelligence, decided to suck off the government teat, and became a small time drug dealer.

I decided to join the Air Force; which has changed me more than any other experience in my life but fatherhood. I credit my grandfather, the Air Force, and my kids, for making me who I am.

I decided to travel around the world, and expand my horizons along with my knowledge. I’ve had the great good fortune to visit all 50 American states, and 40 someodd countries (I say someodd, because some of them aren’t countries anymore, and some are two or more countries now).

I decided to take the opportunities that came my way, and when they weren’t coming, to make them; taking risks, sometimes failing, sometimes getting ahead, but always learning.

I decided to learn every damn thing I could to get by, and get ahead. I learned computers, AND carpentry; mechanical engineering, AND auto mechanics.

I decided to take responsibility for myself, and to do for myself and my family, in every way that I could.

And guess what?

Those decisions have made me into a redneck, and I’m proud of it.

You know what being a redneck means to me?

It means being independent.

It means knowing how to fix things when they break.

It means not being helpless outside the modern urban island.

It means knowing the difference between right and wrong; and knowing how to apply my best judgment.

It means knowing that there are things more important than my own comfort and my own skin; and that those things are worth fighting, and dying for.

I’ve chosen to surround myself with others like me; and let me tell you, there are a heck of a lot of us out there.

We’re black, white, asian, hispanic; Bostonian, New Yorker, Texan, Alabaman, even Californian. We’re college educated, and self educated. We’re rural and urban. It’s never really been about where you’re from, or who you were born to; it’s always been about the decisions you make.

The decision to reject the collective, for the individual. The decision to be in charge of your own life. The decision to live the way you believe is right.

So hell yeah, I’m a redneck, and proud of it.

I am a cynically romantic optimistic pessimist. I am neither liberal, nor conservative. I am a (somewhat disgruntled) muscular minarchist… something like a constructive anarchist.

Basically what that means, is that I believe, all things being equal, responsible adults should be able to do whatever the hell they want to do, so long as nobody’s getting hurt, who isn’t paying extra

No Secession, No Legitimacy!

Many Republicans, having discovered that Bush’s policies are tyrannical, are making noises about wanting out of the fascist state that they were cheering on a few months ago. While we may wonder why it took the trivial matter of having people who have the letter D appended to their names on news reports executing Bush’s policies to open their eyes, we must welcome the fact that they are dimly becoming aware of how thoroughly their leaders had betrayed their country and are looking for ways to undo the damage these leaders wrought.

Some Republicans have even endorsed secession! This is keeping with American tradition that started the first time the idealogical ancestors of the Republican party – the Federalists – lost an election for the Presidency. In that case the merchants of New England threatened secession since Tomas Jefferson’s policies of trade embargoes with foreign markets were crippling them. Since then threats of seccession have been a regular part of the political landscape.

Often the threats of secession are not taken seriously… usually the benefits of leaving the union are not sufficiently great to attract many supporters, and thus the powers-that-be can ignore the movements completely.

Today, though, the Democrats and political leadership are reacting in horror at the reemergence of threat American phenomenon – their dreams of social engineering will go up in smoke if the masses have the option to escape! And many people who should know better are agreeing with them.

People make three arguments against secession:
1)That it is illegal
2)That it is immoral
3)That it is unwise

Let us examine these arguments. » Read more

I am an anarcho-capitalist living just west of Boston Massachussetts. I am married, have two children, and am trying to start my own computer consulting company.
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